Women and children in the world’s poorest countries are at the forefront of the UK’s global aid policy Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said today.
Mr Clegg announced that the government would refocus its aid programme to make the health and well-being of women and children in developing countries its top priority.
He, and International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell will announce the move to Government leaders at next week’s three-day talks to weigh up progress towards global targets to combat poverty, poor education and ill-health.
The most off-track target is the one to slash the number of women who die in pregnancy and childbirth and make family planning services more accessible. In the past year a third of a million women died in pregnancy or childbirth. Their deaths also put more children in danger of missing out on an education and getting sick.
Overhauling the focus of UK aid will save the lives of at least 50,000 women in pregnancy and childbirth, save 250,000 newborn babies and enable 10 million couples to access modern methods of family planning by 2015, the Department of International Development (DfID) said.
“More than a third of a million women have died during pregnancy or childbirth in the past year and 25,000 children die every day,” said development secretary Andrew Mitchell. “The fact that the vast majority of these deaths are preventable and well within our power to stop should be a source of shame.”
“By refocusing the UK’s aid efforts towards helping women in the world’s poorest countries, we can help bring down these shocking figures and boost the contribution women can make to the societies and economies of the developing world.”
The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg said: “The Millennium Development Goals are one of the great causes of our age and the deadline to meet them is just five years away.
“I am proud that the UK is playing its part – but it's time for other nations to step up their efforts.
“A child is dying every three seconds and wealthy countries cannot simply stand by. Women are often the heart of the family and without healthy mothers, families, communities, and societies fail."
As part of the overhaul of the UK’s international aid, experts will comb through and scrutinise how DfID works to find ways to do more for women and babies.